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Thursday, November 6, 2014

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Alternatives to Antibiotics


Since they were introduced in the early 1900s, antibiotics have been used heavily in the treatment of bacterial infections, and have saved millions of lives. Unfortunately, today, antibiotics have gone from being lifesavers to potential threats.

Doctors tend to over-prescribe antibiotics as a means of treating illnesses that could be bacterial, but are often not. This is a problem on several levels.

Another issue is that antibiotics are not completely harmless. Like all drugs, antibiotics can have their fair share of side-effects, some of them dangerous.

For example, the antibiotic Avelox causes several side effects that can be serious, and even life threatening. These side effects can include convulsions, peripheral neuropathy, photosensitivity, and even psychotic reactions. In fact, the instances of peripheral neuropathy have been so prevalent that there are several class action lawsuits in the works, which you can learn more about here.

Get a Second Opinion
If your doctor has prescribed medication to treat cold or flu symptoms, such as head and chest congestion, or a cough, you should get a second opinion. As we stated before, antibiotics are only effective in treating bacterial infections. Some viral infections can become bacterial, but it’s best to have the doctor do a culture to detect the presence of bacteria.

Alternatives to Antibiotics
Wait for it To Resolve
Some bacterial infections don’t need antibiotic therapy.

For example, bacterial sinus infections will often resolve on their own over time, and antibiotics don’t really make much difference.

While you are waiting for the illness to resolve, you can use over-the-counter and natural remedies to treat your symptoms, including:

  • Homeopathic remedies to treat runny nose and congestion;
  • Over-the-counter pain killers for body aches;
  • Hot and cold compresses over the eyes to treat sinus headaches and congestion;
  • Neti pots or nasal irrigation to flush the sinuses;
  • Eucalyptus chest rubs;
  • Steam;
  • Room humidifiers; and
  • Plenty of rest.

Try a Natural Antibiotic
The first antibiotic was made from a naturally-occurring mold. That natural mold was then synthesized in a lab to create penicillin, and from that technology came all of the other antibiotic drugs in use today. However, molds aren’t the only source of natural antibiotics. In fact, there are several herbs and foods that have antibacterial properties, and can help you treat minor infections.

Consult an Alternative Medicine Practitioner
Herbalists, naturopaths, and other alternative medicine practitioners often have treatments that can help relieve your symptoms, and even resolve the actual infection without antibiotics or other drugs.

Things to Consider
While it is possible to treat some infections on your own, without mainstream medical intervention, there are times when you should consider seeing a doctor and taking antibiotics:

  • If you have a fever that persists for several days;
  • If your heart rate is increased;
  • If your notice fast or shallow breathing;
  • If you have an infected injury and the area around the injury is inflamed with red streaks radiating out from it;
  • If you have difficulty thinking or concentrating; and
  • If you notice pain and stiffness in your neck.

These could be a sign that the infection is worsening, or that it is spreading to other areas of your body. In severe cases, you could develop sepsis, which can affect multiple organ systems, or the infection could spread to the brain and the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

Both sepsis and infections in and around the brain are potentially life-threatening.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Nutritional Skincare at Whole Foods – a tried and true review


full disclosure: Whole Foods provided me with three complimentary ACURE ORGANICS products to test for the purposes of this Tried and True Green Products Review. I’ve really enjoyed using the cleanser, toner and facial cream for the past several weeks … here’s my review.

acure Moisturizer

I’m one of those people who likes to take care of my skin – with kindness, and as little fuss as possible. As we all know skin changes over time. So the products we choose to care for our skin change, too. Years ago, I used products designed to treat oily or normal to combination skin. These days I seek out non-toxic products that are intended for dry or sensitive skin. Whether it’s the skin on my face, torso or limbs, I try to provide the best everyday protection and moisturizing possible.

acureToner

Acure Organics is a US-based, Fair Trade and family-owned company that uses 100% nature-based and 70% certified organic ingredients in the creation of their extensive lines of skincare and haircare products. They take a “feed your skin” approach to beauty:  “ACURE for the skin means driving real results through simple, plant and food-based ingredients. Feeding it as properly as you would feed your body internally is the only way to truly optimize its function. We formulate using the same powerful nutrients that you would eat, fueling your skin through nutrition-based skin care. It’s like supplements for the skin! Clinically proven result without the use of gluten, synthetic preservatives or fragrances. No parabens, sulfates, phthalates, petrochemicals, or animal bi-products. We provide scientific nutritional support to enhance the skin’s own ability to regenerate optimally.”

acureCleansersHere’s the easy 3-step skincare routine that I’ve been following recently, thanks to ACURE ORGANICS:

  • Fragrance Free Sensitive Facial Cleanser … I simply splash water on my face, dab on a bit of cream, massage and rinse. Skin feels really smooth and clean – no filmy residue. The ingredient list on all of these products is spelled out in lay terms, which is awesome. Natural Vitamin E, Fatty Alcohol, Sugar Soap, Sugar Gum, in addition to a slew of organic ingredients, like: chamomile, acai, blackberry, coconut oil, olive oil, argan oil, pumpkin seed oil and even CoQ10 (more…)
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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Let the EWG Seafood Calculator Determine the Best Seafood for You


circling school of fish

Most people know the health benefits from regularly including fish and other seafood in their diets; they provide us with the essential, long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. A third, short-chain form of Omega-3 is found in several plant seeds and nuts, but the forms found in seafood are proven to have more effective health benefits. On the other hand, there are opposite reports of the health risks associated with eating seafood due to an increase of toxic mercury levels in the world’s oceans. In fact, a recent study concluded that in “ocean waters shallower than about 100 meters… have tripled in mercury concentration since the Industrial Revolution.” Emissions from coal fired power plants, smelting, cement manufacturing and certain mining activities are only some of the industries contributing to a unnatural amount of airborne mercury, which is eventually deposited in water bodies around the world, infecting marine life. So while the Omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood are essential to our health, harmful levels of mercury could accompany them. Luckily, the cost – benefit analysis between these two traits in different species of fish has been spelled out in a quick and pleasing “seafood calculator” from Environmental Working Group. (more…)

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Natural Remedies for Mole Removal


Moles usually make an appearance early in life, but can continue to grow and change over time. They can either occur individually or in small clusters anywhere on the skin. Moles result from several skin cells growing in a cluster rather than being spread out. The close nature of the cells means the pigment of each is in close proximity, resulting in their dark color. There are some natural treatments that may help. Here are just a few of them: (Note it can take several weeks, possibly up to two months to see results so be patient and consistent with your chosen methods.)

apple cider vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a really popular natural remedy for a variety of skin issues because of its acidic nature, which can help ‘burn’ off moles and other skin growths. Apple cider vinegar can be quite strong, and if you have sensitive skin, it may be a good idea to dilute it a bit with water before applying to the skin. Put some on a cotton ball and apply to the mole a few times a day. If you are concerned about the odor, have no fear. The smell completely disappears once the vinegar evaporates.

Garlic
Garlic is so much more than a tasty addition to food; it has a variety of properties that give it many useful health applications. It is a popular internal remedy for enhancing the immune system and purifying the blood. As far as external use, it contains enyzmes that help break down the clusters of skin cells that cause growths such as moles, warts and skin tags. It can also lighten the pigmentation of moles. Cut open a clove of garlic and rub the juice on the skin two to three times a day.

Iodine
Iodine is most commonly used as an internal natural remedy to regulate a variety of hormones, namely the ones of the thyroid. But, it also a popular treatment for moles. When used topically, it penetrates the deeper layers of the mole, effectively ‘dissolving’ it over time.

Homeopathy
If you are interested in getting  rid of those skin moles using homeopathy, some of the most popular treatments include Calendula officinalis 12C, Phytolacca decandra 12C, Thuja occidentalis 12C. These ingredients are usually combined with essential oils that are good for the skin, and lesion removal specifically. When going this route, make sure you are using products that are manufactured in accordance with the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States (HPUS.) This ensures effective formulations with high-quality ingredients.

Fig Stem Juice
Fig is probably best known as an internal remedy for constipation, but the stem juice in particular is commonly used as a topical treatment for various types of skin issues, from moles to infections. You need to take some stems and blend them to get the juice. Apply it to the mole three to four times a day.

Pineapple Juice
Pineapple juice is rich in enzyme that help break down skin cells, making it a great treatment for moles. Juice some fresh pineapples and apply it to a cotton ball and put on the skin twice a day. Not only will you have a great remedy for moles, but a nice, healthy, delicious drink!
Dandelion Stem Juice
Dandelion is a popular ingredient in products used for blood purifying, liver cleansing and overall detox, but also has applications for topical treatments as well. It is a very popular remedy for moles and other skin growths because many people find it works relatively quickly compared to other treatments. Take a dandelion leaf or flower and squeeze the stem—a milky liquid will come out and you can apply this directly to the mole. Let it dry. Do this three to four times daily. If you have an allergy to marigolds, chrysanthemums, daisies or other plants in this family, or to ragweed, you may be allergic to dandelion so use with caution.

Getting rid of moles naturally is possible, but you have to be patient. The bigger the mole, the longer it will take. Just keep using your treatments, and know you may have to experiment with different remedies.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

A Green Spa Experience to Remember


Meditation-Garden-with-Iris

Finding myself in San Francisco for a conference, I decided to arrive a day early and explore a spa experience in Freestone which is about 65 miles outside of the city. The thought of “dropping out” for the day to “drop in” on myself was very appealing.

The Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary is a green and sustainable property. The owner, Michael Stusser is a leader in the sustainable movement. It was 25 years ago that he made a commitment to creating a green spa – one that resonates with nature. A founding member of the Green Spa Network, Michael is forward thinking and envisions that spas will be both the wellness and spiritual centers of the future.

tea garden at duskI entered the small building and was met by the intoxicating scent of essential oils. The staff was delightful and Jordan offered to take me on a tour of the property. Towering bamboo hugged a wooden gate that when opened took my breath away. The thought came to mind, “Debra, you are not in Kansas anymore.” I was transported to an extraordinary place, one that bespeaks transformation. The Japanese garden, native plantings, waterfalls, fountain, rock gardens and stream were designed to embrace individuals as they reflect and decompress.

After my tour I was escorted to a creek-side Pagoda and it was there that I received an aromatherapy massage and scalp treatment. Thanks to Consuelo, I was now uber-relaxed. My delicious vegetarian lunch and freshly brewed tea were served in a private enclave overlooking rustic plantings with dramatically beautiful scenery. It was now time for my Sound Therapy session. Suspended in a hammock overlooking a garden I listen to music that was composed specifically to balance the brain. I was drifting away in a state of euphoria when I sensed someone sitting nearby. The practitioner patiently waited for me to notice her and introduce herself. I scheduled for a guided meditation session. Daidie guided me through my past, my present and my future. For me it was a cleansing of the spirit and soul. I experienced a shift within and felt light and happy.

One treatment I did not have a chance to experience was the Cedar Enzyme Bath. Osmosis is the only spa in the United States that offers this unique service which originates in Japan. The hot wood chip bath is used to treat arthritis, the immune system and other body systems. Definitely on my list for my next visit!

Most of us are living a high pressured, tightly scheduled and high-tech lifestyle. It is important to quiet the mind and body and take time to connect, not electronically but energetically, to the nurturing essence of Mother Nature.  Thank you Osmosis for a blissful day!

Debra Duneier is an accredited LEED® Green Associate, Certified Eco-Designer, Feng Shui Master Practitioner, Creator of EcoChi® and an award winning Author of EcoChi: Designing the Human Experience. www.ecochi.com

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Tips for Maintaining Healthy Teeth


Dental care is an important part of supporting oral health care in children. Proper dental care helps to give children the foundations to developing healthy, strong teeth. Toddlers as early as 1 year old are ready to visit the dentist and get a basic cleaning, and from then on, parents have the responsibility to ensure that their children have dental checkups. Pediatric dentists recommend that children receive a dental check-up every six months to help prevent dental problems in the future. In addition to visiting the dentist periodically, many parents search for tips and resources on how to protect their children’s teeth.

Maintaining a balanced diet of foods in the five food groups and minimizing the consumption of candy, chips, sugary juices and soda drinks can go a long way in preventing cavities and tooth decay. Parents should always brush their children’s teeth in the morning and before bedtime with fluoride toothpaste. In addition to brushing and flossing daily, there are several strategies that parents can use to help promote healthy teeth in children, which can lead to healthy teeth in adulthood.

Studies show that cheese provides calcium and protein for the body to help support strong bones and healthy teeth. Recent studies have also shown that cheese protects the teeth from acid build-up and cavities by helping to clear away debris that causes bacteria and tooth decay. The calcium and phosphorous in cheese also help to replace lost minerals in teeth caused by acid. Some of the well-liked types of sliced cheese and cheese sticks that children love are Cheddar, Mozzarella and Swiss. They are great products to add with meals and for snacks.

Sippy cups are used to help toddlers transition from bottles to regular drinking cups. Many parents of toddlers allow their children to drink sugary drinks throughout the day. However, dental experts believe that toddlers who regularly drink sugary beverages from sippy cups are at risk for developing cavities and tooth decay at an early age. There has been increase over the years in cavities found in toddlers from ages 2 to 5 years old. Experts recommend that parents reduce the amount of sugary drinks in sippy cups, except during mealtime, and replace the drinks with water. This is a healthy tip to prevent dental decay as well as costly dental problems.

It’s beneficial to find a dentist who specializes in pediatric dentists, especially for toddlers and young children. When you take your toddler to the dentist for the first time, pediatric dentists are well trained in many techniques to help children remain comfortable and happy during the visit. Pediatric dentists are also experts at finding fun ways to help children overcome the fear of getting a dental checkup. There are helpful resources online to search for pediatric dentists in your area. Popular dentistry networks, such as Kool Smiles, provide a convenient way for parents to search online for pediatric dentists near specific cities and zip codes. These types of dentistry networks are well-known in cities around the country.

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

fresh air: Purggo bamboo charcoal car air filter


purggo car air filter

Did grandma leave the unpleasant aromatic remains of her favorite discount perfume all over your car, did your cousin sneak a smoke in your backseat last week, did your lab, Rufus, take a dip in the local swamp and then decided to ride shotgun in your Subaru? If so, or you have issues with any of a thousand airborne scents, you might want to consider installing one of these all-natural, Purggo bamboo air purifiers in your ride. These eco-friendly air filters contain 100% all-natural bamboo charcoal and are German-engineered, patent-pending, and nicely designed.

purggo car air filter install

It’s a crazy fact that the FDA doesn’t regulate most of the ingredients that manufacturers put into air fresheners. Many popular brands of air fresheners put whatever chemicals they want inside their products – and many of those chemicals can be incredibly harmful to the human body. A recent independent study conducted on the popular air freshener Febreze by Environmental Working Group revealed up to 89 air contaminants in the product, yet the label on Febreze only listed 5 ingredients.

The Purggo filter avoids all manner of additives and chemicals and is designed to eliminate odors instead of just masking them. As air passes through the filter’s pores, odor particles are trapped on the surfaces inside, purifying the air in your car – simply and naturally. No funky fragrances, added VOCs or harmful chemicals – this little air purifier is allergen- free.

Other features:

  • It’s economical – Purggo works passively 24/7 and lasts more than 365 days.
  • The outer shell is made of renewable hemp fabric.
  • Sustainably designed – no plastic components.
  • No masking fragrance or chemical additives.
  • Made with renewable bamboo.
  • 100% asthma and allergy friendly
  • Safe for the kid’s, the pooch, or grandma to sit right next to.

Purggo air filter on car seat

The bamboo charcoal in Purggo is 4x more porous than regular charcoal and has been activated and carbonized between 1110°F – 1300°F (600°C – 700°C). This form of bamboo charcoal has been used for thousands of years in many Asian countries to purify both air and water.

If you don’t want to hang the purifier from your car’s headrest it will work just as well on the seat. You can even use it in a bathroom or bedroom for some passive air purification and odor removal.

Purggo is about to complete a highly successful Kickstarter campaign, but – if you pre-order a Purggo by December 15th – you can still get it for $29.95 Kickstarter discount price – just visit Purggo.com (official product roll-out is 12/15/14)

related: more health and beauty product reviews from The Alternative Consumer

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Gorgeous and Green: 3 Secret Eco-Friendly Beauty Tips


red lips

It’s not always easy being gorgeous and green.

When you’re busy helping look after the world, the flawlessness of your skin, perfection of your eyebrows and fullness of your lips tend to take a back seat.

Also, with the vast number of goods us eco-friendly beauty queens simply can’t use, it can be more than a little challenging finding the perfect product to mesh with our daily routine AND our beliefs.

Consequently, if you’re finding it extremely difficult to know where to begin, we’re here to talk you through some of the more environmentally friendly ways you can buff up your daily beauty routine.

Take Advantage of Mineral Foundation
More and more, people are beginning to understand the benefits of natural makeup and mineral foundation, which, unlike liquid foundation, uses a finely ground powder to help cover any blemishes, age spots and uneven skin.

Importantly, mineral foundation doesn’t contain any nasty oils, talc, dyes or perfume, meaning your skin will enjoy a perfect colour match and an instant soft-focus effect thanks to the light-reflecting minerals contained within.

Use Bars of Soap
This may not be popular, but by swapping your shower gel for bar soap, it’ll cut down on the need to use plastic bottles to contain your body wash. Of course you recycle, but in case it slips your mind, it’s best to stick to good, old fashioned soap.

To take it one step further with your eco-friendliness, make sure you only buy soap from companies who use recycled materials to package their product – but if not, try to do your bit for the environment by doing it for them.

Manufacture Your Own Products
Following on from the point above, when we consider the packaging cosmetics tend to be wrapped in, the impact on the environment is tangible. Additionally, the synthetic chemicals synonymous with some products can wreak havoc on sensitive skin.

Indeed, National Geographic’s Green Guide has revealed the average adult uses nine personal care products a day, with almost 120 chemicals combined. Nice. The solution? Make your own! Not only is it great fun (promise), you’ll know exactly what’s going into the product you make.

While this should be enough to get you started on the route a comprehensively eco-friendly beauty routine, it’s worthwhile conducting further research, which will allow you to systematically introduce other beautification techniques into the fray.

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